Auto Industry Boosting Economy In Crenshaw Co.


By Amanda Wade

The auto industry in Alabama has proved to be a financial boom to state in many ways, and that's especially true in Crenshaw County.

Managers at Crenshaw County's SMART Plant say they have nearly doubled their employment numbers since the Hyundai supplier opened almost 10 years ago, and they aren't the only plant that continues to expand in the county.

Before the auto industry came to Crenshaw county, unemployment rates were at nearly 14%, but with steady expansion over the last decade, the rate is now below six percent. The SMART plant promised to bring 400 jobs to the community when it first opened, "And now we're up to 740 people as of today, so that's almost 100% growth since the time we started this thing 10 years ago," says General Manager, Gary Sport.

They aren't the only plant seeing growth. Dongwon managers say they have tripled their employment numbers. 310 people are now on their staff. Crenshaw County Commissioners say the growth is a trickle affect to other industries in the area, "We know the revenues are up, and especially the restaurants. We know some of the restaurants the sales taxes are some of the largest in the area that produce the most sales tax. To me, that's probably where the most impact has been," says commissioner, Merrill Sport.

But retail isn't the only industry seeing more business, says the President of First Citizens Bank, William Petrey, "The automobile industry has really helped us have more checking accounts, more home loans, more auto loans."

Managers at both plants say they are expecting to continue expanding, and at Dongwon they are planning to hire nearly 75 people within the next six months.

The auto suppliers also say they are already making plans for expansion projects in 2015.

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